Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For the love of cookies

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have cookies! I didn't want to leave you with a mental picture of that disastrous cake. You might wonder if I can make anything at all! So, here is a sweet little recipe for those days when you want to impress the guests.

But, before we start, a little reminder of who is posting and where...
(Got it? Good. That's me on the cover.)

   Here is a picture of what I'd seen once and thought was so adorable!

The recipe is a standard refrigerator dough recipe like so:

2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 sticks butter (I suggest you use the real stuff, we're eating cookies, We need calories.)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

  Don't skip the cream of tartar. I tried that once and they were gooey instead of crumbly. We want something like a tea cookie here. Let's leave the soft and chewy cookies for the chocolate chip walnut variety.

  Now, I had this sudden urge to try these cookies because I was upgrading my life.

Yes, you heard that. A whole new me!

And here is the first step... Meet EDNA.

  Edna is my very first mixer. I found her languishing at a garage sale last week. She was $2.00 and was leaning in a very come-hither way against a WWII army trunk. I knew at first sight we were going to be best pals. As for the name, I chose it after Edna St. Vincent Millay. 
Here she is, looking angsty and romantic. She wrote some very, very famous poetry. Like this one:

 My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.

 Ah, isn't that wonderful? We still use that phrase.... But I like her because she really excelled at writing the perfect 'break up' poetry. She was raised by a single mother and had a full ride to Vassar. People were scandalized at how a woman could be so, well, frank about the downsides to romance. (Although in our world, all heroes are perfect! Poor Edna. She could have used some good romance novels.)

She was definitely one to STIR THINGS UP. Get it? Ha!

  So, Edna the poetic mixer and I started on our adventure of checkboard cookies. I was nervous, she was a hardened old-timer. The perfect pair.
 I hoped.

So, here we go. *deep breath*

With a roar like a V-8 engine, Edna started to make her magic. And I fell in love. In a very un-ESVMillay way. Unconditionally. Heart and soul and till motor burn-out do us part. She was beautiful. I would have picked her up and danced around except that she might just outweigh me.
Split the dough in half, after all ingredients are mixed. Add 3/4 cup cocoa powder.

Chill for one hour. When it's well chilled, take both parts and roll them into two long logs of dough. (So, four logs.) Chill again for an hour. Then, cut each roll in four long pieces. Following me? Yeah, me and Edna had lots of time to chill and swap bad boyfriend stories.
Um, well, this isn't quite looking like it should. Edna was cool with it. She said to just keep going. So, four long strips, laid side by side. Then another four on top, alternating colors.
Chill again. (Edna confessed everything about that Army trunk. He was strong and sturdy, built to protect, but too confining for her Bohemian lifestyle so they parted ways. )
So, after the log is chilled again, start slicing into small pieces that will show the checkerboard inside. Bake at 350F for 9 minutes. (Ignore the Prego sauce. It has nothing to do with this recipe.)


Allllllllrighty then.

  Edna thinks I didn't keep them cold enough and they started to meld together before cooking. She advised me to tell the kids we were making zebra cookies. She says it's all about confidence. And I live in a zoo, so that fits.
Mmmmm. Shortbread zebra cookies. I have no idea how long they stay fresh, because cookies in this house last about 2 hours max, and those are the burned ones. I advise you to grab a few girlfriends, some hot coffee or cold milk and swap stories about past loves. Or broken hearts. Or just make something up.

 If all else fails you can read poetry to each other.

  Until next time, my dears!



  1. Oh, I love zebra cookies WAY MORE than fancy old checkerboard cookies, anyday!

    Zebras rock and they traveled in packs with dinosaurs, therefore cool beyond words.

    (that last is untrue, do not look it up, but it sounded good for the zebras, right? Like they're smart and long-lasting, and what happened to those dino-things anyway??? Oh, that's right: They're Gone!!! After ten million years. Could that figure possibly be correct????

    Oy. I must stop prattling...)



    1. is there another book?! I just finished House Full of Hope (think that's the title - Mark's book) last week and it was good! :-) now I"m reading Mia's that you said was good on seekerville(my non-existent budget thanks you :-) liking it too but not too far into it - darned work keeps interrupting my reading time!)

      ok this recipe is wayyy too much work for me! IF I actually made the dough I'd probably just make light cookies and dark cookies and when I eat them just stack them on top of each other...


    2. Hey, having trouble getting my posts to come up!! It's the herd of zebras here...

      And yes, Susanna, I also saw a recipe where they made them dark and light and stacked them on a colored checkerboard and gave it out at a party. It was SO cute!!!

      After this batch, I just started rolling them into swirly marbles and squashed them. That was cool, too!

    3. And thank, you, Ruthy!! I wouldn't have known except that JAN saw Melissa's tweet on put it on my facebook page!

      *whew* I got lost just typing that...

    4. As my husband says, you just have to know how to stalk the right people - but oh, so happy for you, still!

  2. A mixer for $2, a great review, and a reminder of my favorite poet...who needs perfect cookies! Love your recipes and the humor!

    1. Really, Julie? I wouldn't have pegged your for an Edna fan! She's pretty brutal. Ironically, the only really nice volume I have of her poetry is inscribed to me as 'A soul can split the sky in two and let the face of God shine through' and it was from a boyfriend .... who then cheated on me!


      Edna would have totally got him back with a poem that knocked his socks off.

      All I could do was burn all his letters.

      I did keep the book, though. HA!

  3. You're a riot, Virginia!!!! Love that you met your mixer match at a garage sale. That's the way I met my hand lawn mower, Fred. Now there's a match made in heaven!!!

    I always wondered how they made the checkerboard cookies and now I know. One less burning research question to deal with. Thank you for that. Oh -- and I see a few giraffe cookies mixed in with the zebras -- don't you? I think you made a safari batch.


    Is your book out??????? How did I miss that? Details please so I can catch up!!!!!!

    1. ooh I had to go to amazon to see! it says Oct 16 but I preordered the kindle edition and it said I'd get it Nov 1?!! sheesh why do I have to wait longer?! oh yeah so I can get the ebook and make the print bigger! and from the description - if I end up volunteering in shelters to meet a hunky man I'm holding you responsible! ;-)

    2. Oh, man!! We're all going to volunteer after this guy! But then again, I like the tortured hero, so maybe he's not for everyone.

      Thanks for ordering it! You're so sweet. And totally hear you about the LP. My eyes are getting worse by the day. Ugh.

    3. Kav, yes! It's coming out. I'm doing blog tours if anybody wants me to come and wander around in your cyber place. I'll give away a book to sweeten the deal. :D

  4. This post is divine. Full of so many things: cookies, romance, lost loves, children...

    I love your mixer. She must be happy in her new home - I can just imagine how many years she sat in the back of the cupboard in her former home, unwanted and unloved. Unable to tap into her unrealized potential... She NEEDS you, Virginia! You'll let her create to her heart's content :)

    ESV Millay - one of my favorite poets. She was "out of favor" when I was in college. It was the '70's. Any poet who actually made sense was out of favor.

    And oh, how I love these cookies! It's the basic cookie recipe that makes me swoon - it doesn't matter how they look when they come out of the oven!


      Any poet who actually amde sense was out of favor!

      That totally made me cackle.

      And I love Edna, too. From the lack of cookie dough stuck to her underside, I don't think she got much use. The elderly woman who sold her said, 'I never was much of a cook.' She should have just let Edna take over. She did great.

  5. LOL! I loved your post, Virginia!! And a $2 mixer. I'm sick about my Walmart purchase. I should have hunted around first!

    Thanks for sharing! I think your cookies are gorgeous. Not so perfect that we're afraid to eat them. ;)

    Although I'll admit, I kind of like Susanna's stacking method. Much less work. :)

    Susanna, Ruthy was just calling Virginia Missy-Moo-moo. Virginia is the one who got the 4.5 stars!! Woo hoo!

    1. oh ok! I couldnt find another book for you LOL but I did get hers preordered! I just finished yours last week - good one! they were hard on that poor guy though!

    2. yeah, I'm not sure about the Missy Moo-moo. Sort of sounds cow-ish to me. And sicne I just ate a atch of cookies in 1.3 seconds, I'm wondering about that whole comment. BUT, it's Ruthy, and no one can fathom that woman, so I'll let it slide.

      THIS TIME.

    3. Thanks for reading, Susanna! Yes, I was hard on him. So fun. ;)

      The next won't be out until April. But I'll be sure to let you know when it's available. :)

    4. ok thanks - time gets away from me and I suddenly look and realize I've missed books! :-(

  6. You guys are so good, you even make recipes romantic and fascinating!!! I am VERY IMPRESSED. Indeed I am. And procrastinating. I should so be writing my Regency right now.

    1. Regency, schmegency - this is the place to hang, Melanie!

      Just do what the rest of us do - stop in here for a coffee break every once in a while through the day. It really perks up the writing :)

  7. Virginia,

    I love the zebra cookies way more than the checkerboards and I know that my one and only son will love them too. I inherited my Edna (if I may appropriate the name from a wonderful poet and your mixer) from my grandmother and was happy to do so. They are expensive! and heavy! My Edna doesn't get as much use as she should so thanks for the recipe (and the variation)!

    I saw Melissa's tweet too, which is how I found out your fab news. Another writer that I follow (which always sounds a little like stalking) said that twitter is a writer's kryptonite, but it is how things seem to be found out now...


    1. Oooh, lucky you! Inherited an Edna?? Love it! All her stories will be people that you already know!!

      See, I didn't want to join Twitter... but I had to say thanks and loved that she took the time to tweet it!

  8. Edna is the Taylor Swift of poets apparently! Or the Adele!

  9. Virginia,

    Did you know that the poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay was Roald Dahl's motto?

    How cool to see it here while I'm teaching him.

    Love the cookies too.

    1. I didn't know that!!! Six degrees of seperation between the Dahl cake and the zebra cookies...

  10. I'm almost ashamed to say I've only heard of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Another very frank lady poet was Dorothy Parker. Love her "One Perfect Rose." Come to think of it, she's maybe more snarky than frank.

    The cookies are pretty awesome. I like the swirly marble idea.

    I have a similar recipe for candy cane cookies, that never come out looking like candy canes. I can never get them twisted just right. But they taste wonderful! even if I am the only one who likes them (DH and DD are very picky eaters who love peppermint candy, unless of course you crush it and mix it in cookie dough - which is the only way I really like it. Go figure!).

    I've been seeing your book cover all over. Can't wait to read it.

    1. Thanks, Andrea! And you give me your address and I'll send you one. :D My family has had enough of my throwing my book at them. Even the mailman ducks when he sees me coming.